FIRST ON FOX: The Biden administration acknowledged in a memo, accidentally leaked on Friday, that charging fossil fuel companies less to drill would provide “greater energy security” despite its plans to hike royalty fees.
Former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Amanda Lefton recommended late last year that, as part of its climate agenda, the Department of the Interior (DOI) move forward with higher royalty fees for an oil and gas lease sale spanning 958,202 acres in the Cook Inlet off the coast of Alaska, according to the memo obtained by Fox News Digital. DOI Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis ultimately signed off on the recommendation.
“If a Cook Inlet prospect would be developed, there would be additional government revenues and greater energy security for the State of Alaska, especially if development of natural gas resources in the Cook Inlet ameliorated the long-term supply challenges facing the Anchorage area,” Lefton wrote in the memo.
“Nevertheless, because of the serious challenges facing the Nation from climate change and the impact of [greenhouse gasses] from fossil fuels, BOEM is not recommending this option since it would not include an appropriate surcharge to account for those impacts,” she continued.
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Lefton’s specifically recommended the federal government charge drillers with a royalty fee of 18.75% as opposed to an alternative of 16.67% which she said would attract more bids and “be more likely to facilitate expeditious and orderly development of [offshore] resources.”
Daniel-Davis stated in her record of decision — published in November after she signed off on Lefton’s recommendation — that she selected a fee of 18.75% “because this rate constitutes the most reasonable balancing of environmental and economic factors for the American public.” She didn’t mention the alternative would produce greater energy security as highlighted in the memo.
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BOEM ultimately held the auction, known as Lease Sale 258, on Dec. 30. The sale garnered just one bid worth $63,983 for a single 2,304-acre tract, according to federal records.
In May, the White House canceled Lease Sale 258, which had been proposed under the Trump administration, in an unexpected decision that was promptly criticized by the fossil fuel industry and Republican lawmakers. However, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) mandated that the administration reverse the decision and hold the sale by the end of 2022.
“The Department of the Interior mistakenly posted an internal memo making recommendations to Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Laura Daniel Davis, on the Cook Inlet Oil and Gas Lease Sale 258 mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who helped author the IRA, said in a statement Friday.
“I am appalled by its contents, which make crystal clear that this administration is literally putting their radical climate agenda ahead of the needs of the people of Alaska and the United States,” he continued.
Manchin blasted the administration for ignoring Congress’ intent and seemingly pandering to environmental groups “at the expense of shoring up American energy security and keeping Americans safe.”
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“The contents of this memo speak volumes – if this is what this Administration truly believes and is how they are going to make decisions, it is unacceptable,” the West Virginia senator continued. “It’s a clear and intentional threat to energy security and the all-of-the above energy policy Congress has consistently reinforced.”
“I will not support anyone who agrees with this type of misguided reasoning.”
BOEM didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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